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The QB Market Is Irrational; The Jets Should Focus on the Draft

New York Jets v New England Patriots Photo by Billie Weiss/Getty Images

The rumor mill was hot yesterday when it came to Patriots backup quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo.

This doesn’t directly impact the Jets. There is little chance the Patriots would trade what they consider a promising young quarterback within the division.

It is a reminder, however, that there is no easy path to finding a franchise type quarterback. It almost always has to be done through the Draft. The price of Garoppolo is a reminder.

Now we do have to remember that all rumors are not true. Even if that is true, it is a starting price. Teams frequently take an extreme position to start negotiations and then come down.

With all of that said, the price in question shows the real lack of logic when it comes to the quarterback market. Just think about it.

It isn’t true of every single team in the league (and some like the Jets have since changed their front office), but under three years ago, most teams in the NFL passed on Garoppolo twice in the Draft. They didn’t think he was worth their first round pick. They also didn’t think he was worth their second round pick.

What has changed? In the time since the 2014 Draft Garoppolo has played just over five and a half quarters of quality football. He threw 59 passes in two career starts, one of which he left in the second quarter due to an injury.

Think about the endless hours of study teams put into evaluating Garoppolo back in 2014. There were film sessions, workouts, drills, personal interviews, and more. These teams deemed Garoppolo as not worth their high pick.

What would it say for those teams to scrap all of that work over 59 passes and ultimately pay a higher price than they would have two years ago? But that is what happens in the quarterback market. People running teams get desperate. If the quarterback situation is bad, the general manager and head coach get fired if they don’t fix it. They end up making irrational moves.

You might be saying, “Fine, but how do you know teams will show such a lack of restraint when it comes to Jimmy?”

Fair enough, but there are enough examples of teams doing just that. Just take the Texans. They gave Brock Osweiler a contract worth $18 million a year with $37 million guaranteed based on 275 passes last year that were unspectacular. Think that might have been a reaction to Brian Hoyer turning the ball over five times in a Playoff loss to the Chiefs?

Or you could look at the Bradford trade the Vikings made that might have set the price the Patriots are asking for. They gave up a first and a fourth round pick for a quarterback who is middle of the pack on his best day.

That’s just what the quarterback market is. The truly great quarterbacks seldom become available, and teams are still willing to pay a premium to get guys who aren’t that good.

Much digital ink has been spilled discussing the $12 million contract the Jets gave Ryan Fitzpatrick, but that is the 24th highest annual salary for quarterbacks. The quarterback position is just so important that teams will throw money at guys who aren’t that good.

And that is a big factor in the price teams like the Pats are asking for in the trade market. The NFL has something known as compensatory Draft picks. These are bonus picks given to teams that lose big free agents.

The fine folks at Over the Cap have studied the issue and determined that the biggest factor in the formula is the annual salary the free agent gets with his new team.

So let’s say the Patriots let Garoppolo leave in free agency next year. Let’s say conservatively he gets a $12 million Fitzpatrick salary. That would likely leave the Pats in line to get a bonus third round compensatory pick.

No wonder they are shooting so high. Trading Garoppolo for a third round pick would essentially mean breaking even. If you can’t get more than a third round pick, why not just keep him for 2017 and have a quality backup in case something happens to Tom Brady? Then let him leave in free agency and get the third round compensatory pick.

This all shows the difficulty of acquiring a franchise quarterback from another team. It happens from time to time, but the least costly way more often than not is to find one in the Draft.